WASHINGTON: New claims for US jobless benefits fell for the second week in a row despite the massive economic disruptions from back-to-back hurricanes, Labor Department reported Thursday.
The decrease suggested September job creation may not suffer as badly as feared from the hurricane destruction in Texas and Florida, since the latest data are from the survey week used to calculate the government’s key monthly employment report.
For the week ending September 16, new claims for unemployment insurance fell by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000, well below an analyst forecast of 310,000.
That meant the record streak of initial claims below 300,000 was unbroken even though they rose due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma in recent . Claims have remained below that symbolic level for two and a half years, the longest stretch since 1970.
The less volatile four-week moving average rose 6,000 to 268,750, hitting its highest mark since the week ended June 4 of last year.
Claims doubled in Florida to 9,906 while plunging 45 percent in Texas to 28,475 but officials noted these figures were not seasonally adjusted.
Meanwhile, on the island territory of Puerto Rico, claims for jobless benefits skyrocketed nearly nine fold to 2,528.
Though they can see big swings from week to week, the level of jobless claims can be used to gauge the prevalence of layoffs and the health of labor markets.
Seven years of uninterrupted job creation has driven down unemployment to historic low levels, leaving employers reluctant to dismiss workers they may not be able to replace.